The Pro Football Hall of Fame opened its doors in Canton, Ohio in 1963.
In the 48 years since, 21 wide receivers have been enshrined and only one, the great Jerry Rice, had a career more prolific than Cris Carter.
Carter, who spent 16 seasons in the NFL with Philadelphia, Minnesota and Miami, was the second best pass-catcher of his era and the argument could be made that he is second all-time behind only Rice.
Rice was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, but 2011 marked the fourth consecutive winter where Carter failed to make the cut.
Somebody owes both he and football enthusiasts everywhere a darn good explanation because his exclusion simply makes no sense.
When Carter’s career ended following the 2002 season he was second all-time in receptions (1, 101) and touchdowns (130) by a receiver. He is the Minnesota Vikings’ all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns, and was named to the NFL 1990′s All-Decade Team.
Carter was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, a three-time All-Pro, and the only player in league history to twice catch 120 or more passes in a season.
His contributions off the field were also second to none as he was named the NFL’s Man of the Year three times- in 1994, 1998, and 1999. Most players are honored just to be his team’s recipient of the award, but Carter managed to outwork and outspend each and every one of his peers in their respective communities three times.
It would take at least 1,000 words to list the rest of his statistical accomplishments and contributions, so I’ll stop there. But what’s with the snub?
Carter made an indelible impression on and off the field during his career and has continued to be a valuable commodity to the league after retirement. He is an NFL analyst for ESPN, and a good one at that, and has twice spoken at the rookie symposium, which is basically freshman orientation for first-year players. The NFL doesn’t select just anybody to speak to rookies about how to handle the rigorous and complicated life of a professional football player.
To put the cherry on top, Carter is an ordained minister! Whether or not you believe a higher power exists doesn’t matter. What that says is he is a good man of high morals, which you don’t get with every ordained minister, but we know this about Carter because it has been on public display for almost three decades.
What does the NFL have on this guy? Why won’t the committee open the golden gates?
Is it because of the alcohol and drug abuse that ultimately earned him a pink slip from Buddy Ryan’s Eagles in 1989? Uh, hello, Michael Irvin has a bust and his drug problems continued well after his playing days, while Carter’s were solved shortly after that initial kick in the groin.
It can’t be because he never won, or even participated in, a Super Bowl. James Lofton, a former Buffalo Bills receiver, was one of many ringless inductees. Yes, he made it to three title games, but his career numbers aren’t even comparable to Carter’s.
Maybe it’s because he never made the switch from that useless cloth chinstrap to the more practical padded strap that 98 percent of the league donned in the mid-90′s, and the NFL took that as some sort of slight against its never-ending pursuit of player safety.
As you can see, this argument is going south fast and that’s because there is no good argument to make. Cris Carter is a Hall of Famer and should have been a first-ballot selection in 2008.
ESPN’s Chris Berman stated countless times “all he does is catch touchdowns” just before showing another one of No. 80′s spectacular highlights.
Berman was wrong because Carter caught a little over a thousand other balls between the goal lines, wracking up 13, 899 yards in the process.
He also showed himself to be a valuable member to his community and to society in general, while living up to the high standards the league holds its players to.
All the NFL needs to do is recognize that its House of the Holy is missing a member well-deserving of his place.
Let’s hope the committee gets it right in 2012.